IT'S CHRISTMAS! HAVE A BLOODY GOOD ONE, Y'ALL, WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING, HOWEVER YOU CAN.
WE LOVE YOU XXX
O what fun it is to drink
On a dark December day
This super little sour from the gurus at Pastore Brewing & Blending packs one hell of a flavour wallop. It's mega fruity - Cherry Tangtastic - and even more sour than the look Max shoots Nathan when he tells him to hurry up on the coffee packdown...
Another exceptional beer from one of our favourite sour producers of the year. - Peckham Team
How do you like it? How do you like it?
This should be Max's blog, where he raves about what an exceptional pale ale this is, from Manchester's masters of malt and hops. But Max is a musician (check out his work as Peakes), so he works on artists' time. Expect this sometime next week then...
What finer way to end a cold December week than a big-hitting, body-warming imperial stout?
The Dutch stoutsmiths at Moersleutel are brewing them better than most with their inspired and decidedly wacky beers. Churros, cheesecakes, cardamom buns and, in this case, Swedish sweet-bread Limpa - if it’s sweet, it’ll pop in a Moersleutel beer.
Wanna Taste My Nordic Star pours like diesel, thick and gloopy. The limpa adds all those familiar festive flavours you want, coupled with some herbaceous complexity. Its decadence demands measured sipping, a perfect accompaniment for present wrapping, corny xmas movies or boozy Zoom calls with friends. As the Dutch say, lekker! - Toby
It's always at this time of year that the vast distance between us here in South London and our friends and family in New Zealand becomes starkly apparent - and this Omicron Christmas, it's even more brutal than ever. When will we see them again? Who knows? But enjoying a beer jam-packed with hops from my hometown of Nelson makes me feel a tiny bit closer.
Andy from Elusive (The Nicest Guy in Brewing™) is a great friend of HB&B and can be relied upon to always deliver the goods. This smashing crisp and dry IPA features Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops which bring forth lashings of lime and vinous gooseberry. A little taste of the homeland... - Jen
As a self confessed, fully fledged, gotta-drink-them-all, joose fiend/haze head, I find myself having drunk quite a few beers from Polly's this year. The Mold, Wales-based brewery puts out multiple new releases and re-brews every week, and the majority of these have been New England style Pale Ales and IPAs. Their consistency and price point make them a regular go-to for my end-of-day 'staffie' beer, and also my weekend bevs.
Pura Vida = Pure Life apparently - a phrase that certainly resonates. As you sip this beer, it's worth a quick Google - it means "carefree, laid back and optimistic" - well, maybe in 2022... As for the beer; it's gorgeous, almost everything I look for in an IPA. All the big-hitting Southern Hemisphere hops are in play here, doing their thing, and delivering mango, melon and pineapple. Perfect jooose. - John
As we approach the home straight on the downward slope to Christmas, we come to Verdant. Few breweries have done more to push the boundaries of hoppy beer in the UK than Falmouth’s masters of lupulin.
Marylou is one of Verdant’s classic beers and a firm staff favourite - featuring Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic and Citra, you know you’re onto a winner as soon as you crack that can and are instantly transported to a summers day in dank-ass kush town.
Having already had a busy 2021 opening a shared taproom with Bristol’s Newtown Park, along with The Sink Inn in Newquay, Team Verdant has exciting plans for 2022 with a taproom (finally) coming to their forever home in Penryn. If it has as much attention to detail, warm hospitality, top notch food and of course cracking beer as their current de facto taproom at The Verdant Seafood Bar, which I was lucky enough to visit this summer (and teaser posts on social media certainly suggest it will), then this could be even more of an excuse to sample that Cornish sea air, yeghes da! - Nathan
When you Google “Magnetic Oceans”, you can find articles relating to whether ocean tides could lead to natural sources of electricity. Now I’m not saying that glugging this easy-drinking, citrussy, hazy fog machine on a cold Wednesday night will help create usable energy. But it certainly won’t hurt?
Burnt Mill is easily one of my favourite hazy IPA breweries because it's so consistent at delivering easy-going juice. This may taste like a fresh glass of OJ but perhaps resist cracking it until 5pm… Or just pour it into a glass - no-one will know the difference! - Max
Some people, you just form a connection with. We first met Duration co-founder Bates when he was brewing for Brew By Numbers and formed part of the Bermondsey collective that would - and do, still - regularly drink at our Peckham shop. At weekends, Bates and his partner-in-crime, the force of nature that is Miranda, would join us for a beer at the shop at weekends, with daughter Mila and even the family cat Puss-Puss in tow. They told us about a cunning plan they were hatching to convert an ruined barn in Norfolk into a state-of-the-art brewery - a Grand Designs episode if ever there was one.
Fast-forward a few years - and they only went and did it! The ruined barn has become an incredible brewery and taproom, winning Best New Brewery at the Brewers Choice Awards, and Bates and Miranda have positioned themselves firmly at the heart of their community, putting their famous hospitality into action.
We were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving 2019 with them and a group of industry pals, and it truly was a weekend to remember - even more so now that we haven't been able to enjoy such wild, carefree times for a while. Anyway, I'm getting carried away. I bloody well love this beer - it's everything I enjoy in a Belgian-style IPA - refreshing, lightly funky, spicy fun. Ideal for lifting the spirits on a gloomy Tuesday - and lifting the spirits is pretty much Duration in a nutshell. - Jen
We're partial to a great core beer (as is our beer writer Matthew Curtis) - they're the lifeblood of our business, the trusty companions that fill our fridges and fly out by the case, the beers we return to again and again. So, while we'd always been impressed with Alpha Delta's specials, when the brewery announced it was launching core beers in the shape of Apollo IPA and this cracking little pale ale, Hera, we were very excited indeed.
These two beers have become some of our best-selling 440ml cans - hardly surprising when you consider the quality and the insanely affordable price. Hera is a glass of crisp, citrusy refreshment, extraordinarily drinkable and perfect for a Monday night in front of the telly, watching the Succession finale. - Jen
Those of you who have visited the Peckham shop in the last 12 months will no doubt be aware of my ongoing and physically apparent quest to become The World's Strongest Man.
One of the most important aspects of my training has been the synergy of exercise and getting on the sesh. I couldn't stick to my usual diet of TIPAs and Merlot mixed with gin - I required a drink that was full on flavour, but not full on the ABV. Boxcar's Dark Mild fulfilled that quota and then exceeded all of my expectations. It is a triumph of a classic style, with a new and exciting brewery. Rich, dark chocolate on the nose and then straight to sweet coffee party at the front, business tobacco/prunes at the back. But despite having all this flavour, Dark Mild is a true, clean, session beer for any occasion.
For those wishing to learn more about my strongman journey and the many setbacks I've encountered, download my podcast where I discuss workout methods and deep state conspiracy theory; RED PILLow Talk. Boxcar is genuinely one of my favourite breweries right now and this is one of their best beers and that's putting it mildly lol. - Lewis (of course)
This time last year, I said that Drop Project was the best new brewery to hit our shelves. Well, in the last 12 months, I’m pleased to say, they’ve gone from strength to strength - setting up a new permanent home and brew house in Mitcham, opening their taproom and releasing great one-off specials, alongside stone cold classic rebrews.
Now, this beer strikes a particular nostalgic cord with me - that being Christmas morning in the McSherry household. In years gone by, we’d start our Christmas Day off with a nice cocktail - a Harvey Wallbanger, no less - and this beer just brought back all those memories of that gorgeous morning cocktail, with sharp orange and mango juice alongside a smooth vanilla background, complemented with a lovely thick body.
I’m not normally a fan of fruited or sour IPAs, but this beer really hit a special note with me. And just two weeks today, all being well, that memory will be a reality again. - John
When Baz Luhrmann wrote Romeo and Juliet, I’m sure he knew he was onto a winner. Taking the classic rom-com genre and adding some much-needed action, style and, above all, dialogue that is impossible to properly understand.
Neon Raptor has paid fitting tribute to the stars of Luhrmann’s film with its New England DIPA, Capulets. The revitalised double IPA style is now bursting with honey dew melon and passionfruit flavours, hazy and foggy as the family feud for which it is named, with hints of candied almond and burnt caramel at the end.
What juice is this? Give me my Teku glass, ho! - Lewis
And so on this bright wintery Thursday, we come to Beak's Tumbles IPA. For Tumbles, the team at Beak upped the oats and wheat in their usual malt bill for a soft pillowy beer that hits the spot with citrussy and tropical flavours from a classic hop line-up of Centennial, Simcoe and Amarillo.
Gipsy Hill releases four new specials every month, differing in styles, and this year saw our South London neighbour launch a new sour series called Squashed. Each beer is crammed - you could say squashed - full of fruit (and other treats) to produce spectacular sours. (They’ve all been brilliant to date, but one of my favourites of the year has to be the Banana & Blueberry, which is just like the smoothie that I get with my lunchtime meal deal! There are a couple of remaining cans if you're quick....).
This particular edition, Squashed Plum, Cherry & Cranberry Sour, is a cracking festive beer, featuring a gloriously thick body, with the cherry and cranberry giving a nice gentle zing, rather than a complete cheek-puckering sourness. Really refreshing, and a timely switch up from the dark stuff that normally dominates my beer fridge at this time of year. - John
Our beer writer Matthew Curtis summed up this beer best when he wrote: "Every so often a pale ale arrives that serves as a marker in terms of flavour, representing both where we are now, and where we might be heading."
We've loved pretty much everything we've tried from Rivington this year, but this has become our go-to pale. It's simple enough to session, complex enough to hold your interest. We love it so much that when we came to brew our latest collab with Brick Brewery, we took a can of this to the planning session as a benchmark of where we wanted to get to in terms of drinkability (happy to say the Brick team completely understood the assignment!).
Once this winter of discontent is over, we can't wait to pack our rucksacks and head up to visit Rivington in Lancashire, where they have not only an on-site taproom but also a camp site. Tasty bevs, top views and tents - sounds like a bit of us. - Jen
2021 has been somewhat of a love-in between us and local legends Villages. From our Das Harvest Fest celebration of all things lager at the end of summer to our monthly Super Natural Wine Club nights at their taproom, we can’t get enough of each other. Our customers - in the Deptford shop especially - share the love, with Villages’ new releases often flying out of the fridges quicker than most.
Breeze builds on a consistent rise in Villages’ reputation as accomplished brewers of delicious, pintable, dry-hopped lagers. Pouring with a pleasing wobbly head and a crystal clear body, the noble hop character of Hallertau Blanc sings through the beer. Vinous, grassy and zesty, it’s everything you want in an easy-going session beer. - Toby
The Big Beery Advent is a big event for all of us at Hop Burns & Black, involving hours of planning - deciding which breweries we want to feature this year, checking brew schedules and import lists to make sure we get the freshest beers available, ensuring we have a varied range of beers, then all of the packing and dispatching safely...
One area that might not be as obvious is the consideration given to the sequencing of the beers - much like a good mixtape, while the general vibe is 'all bangers all the time', we consider which beers suit a particular night of the month. For the first cold dark Sunday of December, we settled on a decadent sweet stout to warm your cockles from the Dutch masters of the dark stuff.
Brouwerij Kees, led by Kees Bubberman, produces incredible beers across a range of styles, but we have always especially loved Kees' stouts - and this is no exception. Pouring obsidian black with a tan head, sweet caramel and fudge dominate before the PX after-notes offer nice complexity. This is a beer best enjoyed as the night draws in with your Christmas lights on, a beer to sip on and relax before the real Christmas madness begins. Proost! - Nathan
As a self-confessed haze fiend, I was slightly surprised when I poured this beer - no haze! I assume this is down to the beer being fermented with a Kolsch yeast (first time for me trying an IPA with this yeast), which just shows that the Pressure Drop team is always pushing forward with their brewing.
I’d say this beer leans more to the West Coast than the East, but who am I to argue with my favourite brewery? Whichever coast it swings to, you'll find an aroma of freshly squeezed orange juice, a juicy pine taste and a clean, dry, bitter finish, which keeps bringing you back for another gulp. I heart PD! - John
Long before I worked for Hop Burns & Black, I was an annoying customer, continually pestering Jen to see if there was any chance of stocking DEYA. Alas, at the time DEYA's production was so tiny and sought out that any cans that hit our fridges would involve our fabulous warehouse and online guru John dropping in to pick up some strictly limited cans on his return from West Country trips. Happily since DEYA's expansion in size in 2019, we have a regular supply of sensational fresh beers from Cheltenham hitting our decks on a weekly basis.
Speaking of trips, I managed to convince our designated driver on our summer holidays this year to make a 90 minute detour so I could check out their site and taproom. What I found was a state of the art taproom that, while huge, felt homely with a friendly knowledgeable team and of course the beers were all in fine fettle although I'm blaming the sunshine for sleeping through the whole drive back to London. A thoroughly recommended detour.
Onto this beer: DEYA's Saturated Series is a rotating series of single hop DIPAs showcasing and highlighting some of the team's favourite hops. Here with Saturated in Idaho 7 we have an intense tropical fruit and pineapple, a little of pine and citrus and a floral tea like aroma. Enjoy! - Nathan
There are a LOT of breweries out there and - judging by our samples box - there's a new one popping up every week. Some, however, immediately demand your attention, and so it was when we first discovered Floc Brewing when it launched in 2020. Now, with a year or so of releases under its belt, we can confirm Floc is one of the most exciting new breweries out there.
Ross and the team are currently brewing elsewhere while building their brewery in Margate, but their hands-on approach and strict attention to detail and QC ensures consistently banging beers - like the one you hold in your hand. If We Were is a smooth, tropical, passion fruity juice bomb - just the way you like it. - Glenn
#HBBAdvent Beer 1: Brick x Hop Burns & Black HOP East Coast IPA
As regular adventees will know, we take a lot of care each year to select not only a fantastic range of beers for our Big Beery Advents, but also to use this opportunity to celebrate the breweries who've made a real impact on our business - making consistently great beer our customers love, being jolly good eggs to deal with, lending their support through challenging times. Our first advent brewery ticks all of the above.
We've been friends with the Brick team since before HB&B was even a twinkle in our eye - Glenn and I live across the road from Ian and Sally, and our businesses have grown up together. Brick has been a trusty stalwart during the past two years of challenging times, and when it came to choosing a brewery to collaborate with for our seventh birthday on 25 November, we knew who it had to be.
Naturally, they've knocked this beer out of the park - taking our wish list, incorporating our Peckham manager Nathan's excellent recipe suggestions, letting our Max dig out the mash tun, putting their own Brick magic on it. HOP is ridiculously drinkable, smooth and juicy but never boring. We love it, and we hope you do too. Much love to you, Team Brick x - Jen